Mobile services and ICT

Until recently, the poor had very limited access to information. Within the last decade, this has changed dramatically, due to two major changes.

Today, even in the most remote areas of Africa, even the poorest people use a mobile phone. The number of mobile phone connections in Africa is growing at an astonishing 18% per year, with total penetration now at over 500 million subscriptions . Over 6% of the total GDP in Africa is originating from the mobile phone industry. Mobile phones are not just used for communication, but many services delivered over the mobile network are empowering people, or are directly linked to socio-economic development. Examples are educational games, disease monitoring services, market price information services or mobile financial services, all aimed at underserved populations and low-income groups.

A second trend is the availability of data. Until recently, the amount of data coming from the African continent was very limited. Today, this is changing, as African economies and consumers are digitizing, they too are starting to create large quantities of big data, that can be used for many purposes, including development goals. Simultaneously, multilateral organisations and NGO’s are opening up their previously closed treasure chambers of project data and country statistics.

The combination of increased data availability, and a mobile network to deliver services, leads to great opportunities. Attention has to be paid to the long term value propositions of these innovations, to come to financially sustainable services. TNO has long-lasting knowledge and experience in the application of innovative mobile services with socio-economic impact and a sound business model.

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